Transplantologists' queue: Ukrainian law on kidney transplantations from the dead as Pandora's box

Since 2018 in Ukraine there will be allowed kidney transplantation after the death of a donor who is not a relative of the patient that will lead to massive kidney transplants, stated the Acting Ukrainian Minister of Healthcare Ulyana Suprun. The pros and cons of such a decision of the Ministry are worth being considered.

Suprun signed an order that permits the removal of organs from a donor who is not related to the recipient. According to the instruction, now special teams consisting of one to three surgeons, an anesthesiologist, two nurses and other specialized professionals have the right to be engaged in organ transplantation. The operation will be carried out only after the death of the donor's brain is been established and written consent is obtained from his relatives (unless the potential donor has previously written consent for his organs to be taken).

"Now there is practically no corpse donation in the country. Over the past year, there have been carried out only two kidney transplant operations, which is a too small number for a 48-million-nation country," the Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine stated.

According to figures of the Ministry of Healthcare, about 2,000 people need a kidney transplant per year. As organ transplant surgeon Igor Pisarenko said, the law on transplantation from a cadaver donor was adopted in 1999, but was not working as it should — there was no equipment for diagnosing brain death. The Ministry of Health says that equipment will be purchased for the regional hospitals —about $ 35 million will be provided for it in 2018.

However, transplantologists say that it is impossible to solve the problem with one technique.

"We have no system of transplant coordination established. We need to create an Ukraine-wide "donor-recipient" database to begin with. So that when a person gets into an accident in Lvov and his kidney is suitable to a person from Kiev, then the organ is taken to another city within 24 hours (this is how long the kidney can live before transplanting — ed.), the consent of relatives is received, death and compatibility are established," one of the transplantology centers told.

Lawyers and human rights advocates fear that in Ukraine the "green light" to such a donation will open a way for corruption and even murders in order to receive a transplant.

"Based on the experience of my 25-year human rights practice, there were many cases when names of people in the post, with money would suddenly appear at the forefront in the state queue for kidney transplantation. It always has, it always will. And ordinary citizens who are waiting for their turn, can not affect this in any way," human rights activist Eduard Bagirov told.

Lawyer Ivan Lieberman predicts an even bleaker picture:

"It will open a Pandora's box. It will start with the kidneys, and then comes to the heart and bones. While we do not have laws prescribed as in Europe, it is early to introduce cadaveric donations. Otherwise, the queues of mediators will line up near resuscitation departments, who will offer doctors a lot of money to get a kidney (intermediaries can get $80-100 thousand for it, whereas a donor family will receive only $10-15 thousand)."

DONi News Agency